“Every day is Earth Day”
This year I was lucky enough to spend Earth Day in San Francisco where there was not only a focus on the conservation and preservation of all things Earth but also on the general disdain regarding the funding cuts to the Sciences proposed by President Trump. It was quite an experience!
THE HISTORY OF EARTH DAY
Earth day first came about back in 1970 (I never knew!!) when Gaylord Nelson, a senator from Wisconsin at the time was deeply affected by the hugely damaging effects of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara in 1969. Senator Nelson then assembled a team of like-minded people to coordinate and promote a “national teach-in on the environment” across the country, mostly inspired by and seemingly targeting students and people of the anti-war movement of the time. They chose the date of April 22nd as it fell between Spring break and final exams.
The first Earth Day in 1970 was a huge success with 20 million Americans of all shapes and sizes (not just students and extreme activists) coming together across the nation to express their support of a healthy and sustainable Earth, while raising public awareness through education and media. By the end of the first year the United States Environmental Agency (EPA) was created and passage was provided for the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. (1)
Earth Day was celebrated with the rest of the world for the first time in 1990. Since then Earth Day has united people from nearly every country in the world. It has helped bring to light major issues such as recycling, clean energy, global warming, reforestation and endangered animals. The celebration of Earth Day has attracted more countries, more people and more environmental groups every year. With more than 1 billion people in more than 190 countries participating in local Earth Day events, real progress and success has been seen. For example: in 2010 the Earth Day Network launched a campaign to plant 1 billion trees, which was achieved in 2012, according to the organization. (2)
CHALLENGES FACED BY EARTH DAY
The annual Earth Day observance hasn’t always been a bed of roses. Although there is much global support there is also a sad amount of opposition. Since it’s beginning it has come up against some controversial hard walls and opinions. Ranging from anti-war activists who believed the severity of the Vietnam war was being undermined by environmental issues to politicians who were concerned this new environmental campaign might overshadow important human issues relating to black and brown Americans (3) (Also very important issues!) In the modern era challenges still arise from different areas ranging from climate change deniers to corporate lobbyists, conservative politicians to anti-environmentalist public.
Through thick and thin however, Earth Day has managed to stay relevant and has continued to inspire, teach and lead people from all over the world to strive for a cleaner, healthier and safer environment for humans and animals alike. The Earth Day Network works tirelessly everyday to educate communities, promote green practices and unite the public whether they consider themselves part of the environmental movement or not.
THE IMPORTANCE OF EARTH DAY
Regardless of your views on Earth Day, one thing is for sure; our Earth is magnificent and vital to our survival. It supports life completely and without question.
Earth day is important for so many reasons. Not only is it a day for the world to come together as a united community but it is also a day which sparks individual interest in how you can make a difference on a local level. Yes, even one person can make a difference!
It’s a great day to be reminded that we are humans and it’s important to treat each other with compassion and respect and to also treat our envirnoment with that same compassion and respect. To become not only aware but fully educated about the issues that are threatening our Earth and then learn ways to protect it.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP OUR EARTH?
As I said before even one person can make a difference. You don’t have to move mountains or become a famous TV star to do your bit to help the Earth.
Here are some ideas –
1. Reduce your plastic usage – use a reusable water bottle/coffe cup, say no to straws, take your own resuable shopping bags to the supermarket.
2. Reduce emissions by riding your bike, walking or taking public transport to a destination instead of your car.
3. Take shorter showers – this one’s easy!
4. Recycle and compost.
5. Turn lights off and unplug power plugs when you’re not using them.
6. Pledge to go zero waste. Reduce your impact on the environment by refusing, reducing, reusing, recycling and rotting (composting).
You could also get a little more involved with the community by –
1. Attending a beach clean up – this is not only a great way to meet like minded people but you’ll be doing a great service for our oceans.
2. Get a group together and plant some trees, you can also do this one alone but it’s nicer to share such a positive experience with others.
3. Write a letter to your local political party office about an environmental issue that concerns you.
4. Volunteer for an organisation such as Sea Shepherd or Greenpeace, or even a smaller more local organisation like Conservation Volunteers in Western Australia.
5. Talk to people! Educate them and learn from them.
I never really thought of myself as an environmental activist and I never really believed one person could make a difference until I purchased my Water-to-go reusable/refillable water bottle. I use this bottle whilst travelling because it has a filter which allows me to fill it up from virtually any water source. This means that I no longer have to buy single use plastic water bottles (I actually can’t remember the last time I bought one).
My water bottle is black and noticeable and quite a lot of people have asked me about it and not one person knew it existed before they saw my one. Every person has been very interested and impressed that such a bottle exists and immediately wants to purchase one of their own. I quickly realised that I was making a difference by telling as many people as I could a way to avoid using plastic water bottles but still drink as much water as they needed (especially in third world countries). This would also create a knock on effect as they would go on to tell other people about this type of water bottle also.
I now happily impart any information I may have to help protect our environment with anyone who is interested. And I’m always super excited to hear other people ideas and methods also.
EARTH DAY 2017 IN SAN FRANCISCO
There were many Earth Day events happening all over the City of San Francisco, ranging from beach cleanups to an EDM festival in the park (golden Gate). I decided to go the Earth Day festival and Climate rally held at the Civic Centre Plaza in the heart of the city.
I’ve never been to an Earth Day festival before so I had no expectations but I was really impressed with the range of issues displayed, the level of education offered and the broad delivery of information through music, art, dance, speaking, practical activities and printed information. Plus you could speak to just about everyone and they were happy to discuss anything with you.
So many environmental groups were there to represent a large range of issues. The Reef Check Foundation and the Humane League were there. Several stalls were set up to promote solar power. There were stalls giving you information about planting native plants in your garden and encouraging native wildlife and bees to visit your garden. There was a new car produced by Toyota – The Mirai; a car that works on a hydrogen fuel cell with it’s only emission being water. There were organisations promoting human rights as well as environmental rights. There were stalls set up to teach children about science and there was even a stall with information on how to recycle your used oil and filter from your motorcycle.
After walking around and checking out all the stalls, I spent probably about an hour and half watching a few speakers and performers. When I emerged from the tent I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could no longer move as a sea of people had descended into the festival. The majority of them had placards covered in bright pictures and words, mostly protesting the budget cuts to the Sciences but also many voicing their love and concerns for the environment.
I realised the Climate rally had arrived at the festival.
As someone who actively chooses not to watch the news or stay particularly informed on politics (I can’t stand the negativity), I was not aware of President Trump’s ‘budget blueprint’ released in March. Suffice to say, by the end of the day I felt quite ‘enlightened’ on the subject. I also found it quite ironic to find out that the EPA came about through the efforts of Earth Day but President Trump wants to cut their budget by 31%.
It was quite entertaining to check out some of the placards people made, a lot of people got very creative. Get ready to check out a lot of photos!!
It was so nice to see so many people bringing a united front on such an important subject. Peacefully marching to make their voices heard. The sounds I heard throughout the day consisted of laughter, music, inspiring words and …. And it was awesome to know that even though I was only personally participating in the events in San Francisco, I was automatically apart of a worldwide community. A community who are commited to educating and acting to protect our beautiful Earth.
Everyday is Earth Day.
Love Kat xx